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10 Best One Person Backpacking Tents of 2018

10 Best One-Person Backpacking Tents

One person, solo backpacking tents are ideal if you’re thru-hiking, fast-packing, or backpacking big miles and want to trim your gear weight as low as possible. More livable than bivy sacks, one person tents are designed for sleeping and bad weather protection. While some solo tents are more plush and spacious than others, you almost always have to choose between competing priorities including weight, ease of use, durability, and cost when selecting one. This can make it tough to choose between tents, especially since few stores have display models anymore.  Taking these different priorities into consideration, here are our picks for the top 10 one-person tents of 2018.

1. NEMO Hornet 1

NEMO Hornet 1

Weighing just 27 oz, the Hornet 1 is a lightweight double-wall tent with a side entrance and vestibule that makes it easy to get in and out of. Semi-freestanding, it’s easy to set up, with excellent ventilation between the inner tent and rain fly to help reduce tent condensation. Aerodynamic vents encourage airflow, while the high bathtub floor prevents cold wind from chilling you inside. When the rain fly is not needed, you can use the inner tent like a bivy sack to watch the stars.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Campsaver

2. MSR Hubba NX Solo

MSR Hubba NX Solo
The MSR Hubba NX Solo is a 39 oz double wall tent with a side entrance and vestibule so you can store your extra gear under cover and still get in and out of the tent easily. The tent is easy to set up with a dual hub pole structure that provides excellent head and foot room, in addition to an overhead eyebrow pole that creates vertical side walls to increase livability. The same pole structure provides excellent stability in wind conditions, while rain fly vents help prevent internal condensation.

Check out the latest price at:
REI | Campsaver

3. REI Quarter Dome

REI Quarter Dome 1
The REI Quarter Dome 1 is a highly livable 39 oz double wall tent with vertical side walls and plenty of head and shoulder room. The hubbed and shock-corded pole assembly is color coded to simplify setup, while adjustable stakeout points make stake placement easy and allow for quick vestibule tensioning. Abundant mesh and a roof vent help prevent internal condensation while a variety of pockets and hang loops help organize the interior. This tent is surprisingly affordable and quite a good value.

Check out the latest price at:
REI

4. Eureka Spitfire 1

Eureka Spitfire 1

The Eureka Spitfire 1 is a 44 oz double-wall tent loaded with mesh for great ventilation with ample headroom and interior living space. A deep bathtub floor with taped seams protects against splashing rain while internal pockets provide gear storage. The tent’s hoop-style aluminum poles lock into corner grommets making set up fast and easy while requiring just 2 stakes to secure the inner tent. A large side entry door provides easy access, while the rain vestibule provides gear storage.

Check out the latest price at:
Campsaver | Amazon

5. The North Face Mica FL 1

The North Face Mica 1

The North Face Mica FL 1 is a one person double-wall tent that weighs 32.5 ounces. The inner tent is freestanding, making it very easy to set up and the rain fly only requires an additional 2 stakes to pitch. Steep side walls and the curved pole architecture provide plenty of head room, while an inner tent length of 85″ gives tall people plenty of room to stretch out. The tent also comes bundled with an optional footprint (not shown) which is unusual, since most tent manufacturers charge people extra for them.

Check out the latest price at:
Moosejaw | Amazon

6. Yama Mountain Cirriform SW Dyneema

Yama Cirriform SW DCF

The Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform SW is a 21.4 oz single-wall tarp tent with a front vestibule and a deep bathtub floor. The Cirriform is a great for squeezing into tight spots in dense forest, but doesn’t sacrifice wind or rain protection like an open tarp. It requires two trekking poles to set up, although you can also use a short tree branch for the rear pole support if that’s all you have available. The Cirriform SW is made with Dyneema DCF (formerly called cuben fiber) making it tough, ultralight, and waterproof. Less expensive, but heavier versions are also available in a number of fabrics and fabric combinations.

Check out the latest price at:
Yama Mountain Gear

7. ZPacks Altaplex

Zpacks Altaplex
The ZPacks Altaplex is a hybrid, single-wall, double-wall tarp tent with a floating bathtub style floor and mesh front wall. Weighing 17.9 ounces, the Altaplex is sized for one person plus their gear. It requires one trekking pole or tent pole (optional) to pitch and has a front vestibule which can tied open in good weather. The Altaplex, like all of ZPacks shelters is made with DCF (formerly called cuben fiber), which is a very lightweight and waterproof laminate that is taped together rather than sewn. DCF can be rather noisy in heavy rain and provides limited privacy since it’s translucent, but it is puncture resistant and easy to repair with tyvek tape.

Check out the latest price at:
ZPacks.com

8. Gossamer Gear “The One”

Gossamer Gear The One

Gossamer Gear’s “The One” is an ultralight, single-walled trekking-pole tent that weighs 21.65 oz. It has a spacious interior that’s a palace for one, with excellent ventilation to help prevent internal condensation. Factory seam-taped, there’s no need to seam seal The One which is made with an ultralight PU coated silnylon fabric instead of cuben fiber to help keep its price competitive. The front vestibule is quite large with a zippered center opening which can be closed shut in inclement weather, or rolled back for views and ventilation. The vestibule is also large enough to store your pack under one of the doors and get in and out through the other.

Check out the latest price at:
Gossamer Gear

9. Tarptent Notch 1

Tarptent Notch

The Tarptent Notch is a 27 oz, one-person double-wall tent that can be pitched as a standalone fly or as a complete double wall tent, making it a cost-effective option for many kinds of trips ranging from UL fast packs to car camping. The Notch is a trekking pole tent with two peaks and two vestibules that provide excellent storage for gear and make it easy to get in and out of the tent. Internal ventilation is excellent and the tent is strong and windworthy in stormy weather. The inner tent is available in an all-mesh version or with solid walls for cold weather use. Made of silnylon, the Notch must be seam-sealed. A fully waterproof DCF version is also available.

Check out the latest price at:
Tarptent

10. Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo

Six Moon Design Lunar Solo
The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo is an ultralight style, single wall tent that’s pitched with a single trekking pole. Weighing just 24 ounces, the Lunar Solo is quite lightweight and easy to set up. It has a bathtub style floor to prevent flooding in rain and a side door, making entry easy. The interior is quite roomy, with a hexagon shaped floor, providing room to store your gear in the tent, and plenty of head room to sit up inside. A large vestibule also provides gear storage and room to cook in bad weather.

Check out the latest price at:
Six Moon Designs

Tent Selection Criteria

Here are the most important variables to consider when buying a backpacking or camping tent.

WEIGHT/TRAIL WEIGHT –  The total weight of a tent usually measures the tent and all of its packaging, while the trail weight is the weight of its poles, inner tent, outer rain fly, minus any tent stakes. Why the difference? Most people replace the tent stakes that come with a tent with lighter weight or stronger ones and leave all the extra stuff sacks and packaging at home rather than carry it.

TENT POLES – Tent poles are made using fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the most durable of the three, while carbon fiber is normally only used in very high-end tents where the focus is on light weight. Fiberglass poles are the least durable tent poles and break frequently.  So much so, that we recommend avoiding any tent with fiberglass poles. All the ones above have aluminum poles or use trekking poles. Most manufacturers who sell trekking pole tents offer regular tent poles as an add-on purchase.

DURABILITY – The floor of a tent is the part of a tent most likely to be punctured or torn as a result of ground abrasion. While using a footprint on floors that are 20 denier thick or less is always recommended, it’s far less necessary on 30 denier or higher floors, except on highly abrasive or rough terrain.

DOORS – Tents with two side doors are often preferable when purchasing a tent for two because it means each occupant can each get in and out without disturbing one another.

INTERIOR STORAGE – Interior pockets and storage organization is a plus in a multi-person tent. Look for internal pockets and gear loops to hang gear from the ceiling. A gear loft is an added bonus. Vestibule space is always a plus as well, but especially if there are multiple doors, so that gear storage does not block entry and exit.

VENTILATION – All tents experience tent condensation, but good tentsite selection and ventilation are the best ways to avoid it. Look for tents that have lots of mesh netting to facilitate airflow, top vents to release moist air, and door tie-backs to roll up tent doors and keep them open at night.

Check out SectionHiker’s Gear Guides

Written 2018.

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18 comments

  1. Glad you mentioned the Spitfire 1. This tent doesn’t get mentioned enough in the hiking press. Probably because of the price. People might think it is cheaply made. It is not. I got mine 5 years ago and it is holding up well. Over 30 nights on the trail in NH and the AT in TN and NC. Easy to set-up and dry. Compare sq.ft., center height, weight, and price and it is hard to beat. You can get one for $100 if you look around.

  2. I’m happy to see that the Spitfire 1 makes these lists on this website (rare to see it mentioned outside of SectionHiker). While it is a tad heavier than most of these others, you just can’t beat the price. I thoroughly enjoy mine.

  3. Kind of surprised that the Copper Spur HV UL1 didn’t make the list. Is there a reason it didn’t make it?

  4. Ditto for the Copper Spur HV UL1, was actually about to buy it tonight because of the great reviews on it and the high volume structure, it seems to have more livable space than a few of the other picks, was also considering the REI QD UL1, curious as to why it didn’t make the list

    • It was a close 11th. I wanted to give some exposure to tents are all levels of the cost spectrum, like the Spitfire which is probably the biggest seller on this list. The BA HV UL 1 is not a bad tent. But, I just think the HV improvements were more meaningful on the HV UL 2 and HV UL 3 than the HV UL 1.

  5. Thanks for adding such a versatile list Phillip. Versatile in comfort, weight and price.
    I send many beginners over to your site, it helped me substantially when I decided to partake in going outside again after many years.

    I’d like to add some info regarding my personal experiences with some of the shelters and companies provided in this list.

    Firstly Yama is top notch, I’ve heard some subpar reviews of the dcf that’s used by other cottage companies (not by experience so won’t throw names) and not having expendable income, durability AND a LW shelter were my top qualifiers. I opted for the Cirriform DW in CF and I love the versatility. I almost went with the SW option, but for the ~2oz overall weight difference, I feel it’s paid off. I definitely would NOT recommend this shelter for people who like to hang out, there’s little wiggle room for dressing and even sitting upright. The SW, or just the tarp, does provide more clearance above. I’ve set it up in a plethora of areas, albeit East coast only, and I’ve never had an issue with less than stellar camp sites. It has such a small footprint you can squeeze in just about anywhere and everywhere. The bathtub floor is the highest I’ve ever had and protects great against wind and rain splashing around you. It is great for hiking all day and going to sleep, warm and dry in. I’ve never had a condensation issue except when pitching by water sources and even then it was minimal. There’s a learning curve with pitching CF and it just takes some practice to get a taught pitch,
    I still have issues getting the shown vestibule as pretty as Gen’s, after that you should be able to handle it very quickly. I’ve owned mine for around two years and other than some pine sap stuck here and there and the inherent wrinkles that come with CF, it looks absolutely brand new.
    Gen, btw, is absolutely phenomenal to talk to. He was super patient with me and answered all my CF newbie questions and tried his best to save me a bit of dough. I’ll probably never get rid of this shelter. I just wanted to add my two cents, for others who look for user reviews like I do, which is one of my reasons for coming back here, Phillip’s review of the Cirriform helped me to seal the deal.

    Tarptent is another company that doesn’t hold back, overcharge or sell gimmick crap. I’ve had a Scarp for awhile now, when the newest model came out, and have hunkered down in three days of rain that swept in off the lake. I never had an issue with any precip, condensation or otherwise, and this thing is a palace for one person and a dog, have slept two in it, which was moderately comfortable without having to spoon (gear was outside). If you’re looking for a company you can call a year later with an odd ball request, question or repair, they’re definitely top tier for customer service in my opinion.

    I own a Skyscape from SMD and while it’s heavy for a solo, it’s a great introduction to going lighter, smaller and simpler. I did notice some issues with mine on both the sewing and the actual symmetry of the vestibule(s), which can create more of an aesthetics issue, but still annoying when trying to get that perfect pitch. I did buy mine from a middle man, but purchased it new and from an authorized dealer for SMD, so it is still a issue for me. My stepson uses it, or other newbies I’m not worried about ruining something expensive. I’ve been looking at (read, will eventually buy) their Gatewood Cape. I can add that I think my experience with this shelter is not the norm for their quality.

    I would just give a recommendation for something small and cheap like the SMD Trekker if going lighter is something unfamiliar with you and the, (not lack of comfort..), but needing the addition of skills to compensate for the simpler designs that most of these shelters are known for.

    • I have to agree about Gen’s stuff at Yama Mountain. I have an older sil 2p terraform and a DCF 1p cirriform. The Cirriform DW is fantastic in lousy weather. On the AT I’ve used both pieces
      Here in CO in the summer I use the tarp with a bug bivy. I was thinking of getting a Cirriform sw for the final stretch on the AT this summer. It is bigger. Just haven’t pulled the trigger. But the new black DCF material is calling my name!

  6. Tarptent is making a DCF tent?!?!?!?

    Never thought I’d see the day.

  7. I have used the Alps Lynx for years and love it. Paid $89. A bit over 3lbs it’s a little heavy.

  8. Not against spending $$ on a lighter tent just havnt found one i like enough yet.

  9. Thanks for this very useful compilation. On the strength of your recommendation I bought a Yama cirriform and I have been very happy with it in the course of several through hikes. For a long hike I am considering I am looking for a shelter that does not require the number of stakes the cirriform or many of the shelters on this list appear to require, yet it would have to be able to stand up to wind and horizontal rain. The least “staky” on the present list appears to be the Notch, but I recall an exchange you had with Grandpa about the Notch where you said something like “I know what the Notch really is like” and to my ears this was not meant as a ringing endorsement.

    For a trip of about one month length (some 650 mi) is the Bowfin a better alternative, even though it’s some 10 oz heavier than the Notch? A price worth paying? Wait for a Bowfin Li?

    • I think you’re probably misinterpreting that exchange with Grandpa. He bought my “Notch. The reason the Notch is on this list is because I think it’s a fine shelter. Is it better than the Bowfin? Better at what, I’d ask. Depends what you want to use it for, which you haven’t really said.

  10. How many brands and countries unknown!
    Locus gear tent. From Japan. An unknown wonder.

    Guillermo Elgart of Argentina

  11. Putting in my 2-cents: the Zpacks Solplex and Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1.

  12. Absolutely loving my new Lightheart Gear SoLong, but spent 10 great years with an REI QuarterDome and loved it, too. :-) I researched for 6 months before buying the SoLong and it suits me perfectly.

  13. Some great tips here for novice campers – I will be doing my first camping/hiking trip at the end of June with great trepidation!

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